Morgan Freeman’s lawyer has asked CNN to retract its report about sexual misconduct allegations against the actor.
The 10-page legal letter, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter (below), is addressed to Jeff Zucker, president of CNN, and claims the story has defamed and “inflicted serious injury” on Freeman’s reputation and career.
“At a minimum, CNN immediately needs to issue a retraction and apologize to Mr. Freeman through the same channels, and with the same level of attention, that it used to unjustly attack him on May 24,” reads the letter from attorney Robert M. Schwartz. “CNN also needs to retract the portions of the story that concern Lori McCreary and apologize to her for defaming and injuring her.”
Freeman’s lawyer says they have begun an investigation into the story and shared some of the findings of their review:
Of the three people CNN identified as being a “victim,” the first, CNN’s own Chloe Melas, had no reasonable basis to have interpreted what Mr. Freeman said or did at the Going In Style interview last year as having been directed at her or as any form of harassment. The videotape confirms that his statement had nothing to do with her and was not harassing. And an independent third party, the Warner Bros. Human Resources Department, investigated her claim and concluded that it was not supported by the facts.
The second person CNN identified, Tyra Martin, has gone on record twice since CNN published the article to state that CNN misrepresented what she said to CNN and that Mr. Freeman did not harass her.
The third person CNN identified, Lori McCreary, told CNN that Mr. Freeman never harassed her. And as to CNN’s gratuitous sideswipe at Ms. McCreary herself, yet another independent party investigated the claim when CNN raised it, and found it to be meritless.
Ms. Melas baited and prodded supposed “witnesses” to say bad things about Mr. Freeman and tried to get them to confirm her bias against him. Thus, no reader of the article can have any confidence that any of the anonymous sources, which make up the balance of CNN’s article, can be relied upon at all.
In response, a CNN spokesperson said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter: “The unfounded accusations made by Mr. Freeman’s lawyer are disappointing and are difficult to reconcile with Mr. Freeman’s own public statements in the aftermath of the story. CNN stands by its reporting and will respond forcefully to any attempt by Mr. Freeman or his representatives to intimidate us from covering this important public issue.”